Archdiocese Local Religious life

Three ordained to transitional diaconate

by Joe Bollig

TOPEKA — In the course of a week, the ranks of the archdiocesan clergy were increased by four.

Following Father Shawn Tunink’s ordination on May 24, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was privileged to ordain three young men to the transitional diaconate at 10:30 a.m. on May 31 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.

In a liturgy at which he also preached, Archbishop Naumann welcomed the new deacons: Pat Sullivan, Andrew Strobl and Matthew Schiffelbein.

Although brief, the transitional diaconate is an important step toward ordination to the priesthood. Through their ordination to the diaconate, the three men received authority in the name of the church to preach, baptize, preside at funerals, witness marriages and serve the faithful through the ministries of charity.

In his homily, Archbishop Naumann talked about “catching God’s eye,” said Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy.

“Archbishop Naumann told an anecdote about a much-appreciated waiter who died,” said Podrebarac. “After the waiter’s death, his diners went to his widow and asked if they could provide the monument, and she agreed.”

“The epitaph read, ‘He was finally able to catch God’s eye,’” continued Podrebarac. “And at the end of his homily, the archbishop used the theme of ‘catching God’s eye’ to illustrate God’s call to us to enter into his service.

“He expressed his hope that [the deacons] would have no trouble in their ministry ‘catching God’s eye.’”

The archbishop also told the three men that “this is what you were meant to do — this is what you were made for.”

As part of the ceremony, each of the three men received the vestments of the deacon — the stole and the dalmatic.

Deacon Sullivan was vested by Deacon Justin McMenamy, from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Deacon Strobl was vested by Father Jerry Volz, pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Topeka. Deacon Schiffelbein was vested by Deacon Richard Baker, his great-uncle, from the Archdiocese of Denver.

The three deacons, who are studying at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, will be ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 2009. The location of the ordinations has not yet been determined.


About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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